Monday, January 30, 2012

Counting Words

page from 1200 year old Book of Kells, not what I'm writing

How do you keep track of what you're writing? Do you count words? Pages? And how do you do it?

I've belonged to a couple of online goal-setting groups. It's helpful when I have to report my progress. I can see when I'm slacking and not producing! Those weeks, it's embarrassing to report and I usually do better as soon as I can.

Sure, you have the word count in Word. But that's the total for the document. If you don't keep track somehow, you don't know how much you're producing at each writing session.

Here are some handy tools I found on the web.

This page has a simple meter that requires a word goal at the beginning. From the comments, there might be some glitches, but it looks pretty simple.

You can download some fancy spreadsheets from thislink

I am a spreadsheet nut, so I will probably try some of these.

The 2011 NaNoWriMo spreadsheet is here. This one has a sheet for each month.

I used to use one that Erik Benson designed for NaNo. It had cute motivational messages. Here's a link to a version of that one.

A version for when you're working on several projects at once was adapted by Karen Duxbury of the Guppies for our Chocolate Challenge a few years ago.

Nowadays, though, I use a spreadsheet with separate worksheets for my projects and put bar graphs on them.

I'd love to know if you like any of these. 


  1. Nice! I'll have to look into these. I usually think in terms of pages or chapters when it comes to writing. I leave word thinking for Nanowrimo or when I need to know where I'm at.

  2. I highlight the bit I've written, as Word tells you the number (out of the total).
    I probably shouldn't obsess over my word count, but I find it helps me reach my weekly goal!

  3. Sometimes I find that obsessing over word count templates result in me not writing a lot of words in the end. :( Scrivener has this quick project target / project statistics function I can use with just a couple of clicks every time I start writing, so i find that helps! (The NaNo spreadsheet's cute, though!)

  4. Mary Ann--You obviously don't have the degree of OCD that I do. I love to look at the numbers.

    Phillip--Yes, obsessing is good for a writer, IMHO.

    Rin--I have to use *something* for a delay tactic. I've heard so many good things about Scrivener, might have to check that out.

  5. Girl, I need your OCD when it comes to writing organization! You are the queen!

  6. I think that's one vice (shortcoming?) that can be turned into a virtue easily. Just have to step back and not overdo it occasionally!